The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

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The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby RandyM » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:06 am

The transport truck pulled in late last night and the 550 is finally in the garage. I took it out for about a 5 mile drive (It's 31 degrees right now) and all i can say is WOW!

I didn't have much time last night to tinker with the car but got up early so i could get more familiar with it....have a few questions and need some input as well.

It is a Vintage 550 about 9 years old with only 7k miles, so with that in mind here's a few questions:

1. How do I open the front hood? I've looked everywhere for a release and even tried pressing in on the tabs but so far no luck.

2. It drives amazing! light, nimble, quick and sounds amazing. The accelerator is a little touchy meaning if my foot pressure changes even slightly i'm bucking around like a horse. I'm sure that takes some getting used to but it is very responsive.

3. The turn signals and running lights work but for some reason the headlights will not come on...Thoughts?

4. The only thing I noticed on my short drive is when braking it wants to pull left, I'll have to look into that when it warms up some.

5. After numerous "practice attempts" I can finally get in and out without looking like a klutz. I can't be pulling up to the gas pumps and act like I don't even know how to get out haha.

In short the car is amazing, just need to sort out these small items and figure out how to open the front hood.

Here's a few pictures, more coming when it warms up a little.

PS....included a picture a the front hood in case that helps with trying to figure out how to open.

ImageIMG_3988 by Randy Mally, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3998 by Randy Mally, on Flickr

ImageIMG_4001 by Randy Mally, on Flickr
ImageIMG_4004 by Randy Mally, on Flickr
ImageIMG_4003 by Randy Mally, on Flickr
ImageIMG_3997 by Randy Mally, on Flickr
Randy
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby Carlos G » Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:48 pm

Randy,
The fun is just about to begin.

The release for the front trunk is under the dash board in the center. Mine is a 3/8" rod that enters the cockpit and extends down a few inches right where the hood latch is. Just push it to the left and you'll here it unlatch. The trunk lid opens forward like an older BMW's hood. You might have to use your fingernails to get under the lid to raise it. I installed a spring that raises it just far enough to get my fingers under it.
Those two triangular chrome things on the hood with the holes in them are probably fake, unless the previous owner gave you a funky T-handled key to unlock them. This is how the originals secured the hood.

As far as the brakes, are they drums or discs?

I would check fuses for the headlights first. The light switch is usually a POS, but if it operates the other lights, it might not be suspect.

What is the difference in altitude from where the car lived and where it's at now? Your carbs might need to be adjusted for the difference.
Air cooled VW motors also like to be completely warmed up before they'll even start to behave.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby RandyM » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:51 pm

Thanks Carlos,

I found the release, don't think i would have found it without your advice.

The brakes are two disc two drum, If memory serves if it pulls to the left then i need to check the right side. Hopefully something simple but since I have no history with the car I guess i should go ahead and replace all the lines and calipers.

This was an Arizona car, they are about 1,243 above sea level and I am about 880.

Thanks for the feedback.
Randy
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby Mtflyr » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:06 pm

Hey Randy

On the getting in and out of the car. I hardly ever use my door/s it's much easier to just step into the seat/s one hand on the door the other behind the drivers seat then just settle down. For getting out I use my right elbow on the rear bulkhead top behind my seat and press down with it and push off the door with my left hand stand on the seat and hop out. Never put any weight on your Plexiglas wind screen. :D

Best practice panic stops in an empty parking lot and see what happens with your braking. At speed they can be twitchy when hard braking. I carry the top (I have a SE/Beck), tools, jack, spare oil etc to keep some weight up front I think it helps in braking and at high speed to keep the front down. Also keep an eye on tire pressure I drive with 22 lbs in the front and 24 in the rear on Vredestein's (165-R15 front and 185 70R-15 rear). It can be any number of things with the brakes. I have disc F and drums R (I adjust the R drums when needed). Good luck.

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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby danstern » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:23 am

Once warm the throttle should not be that sensitive. I suspect the bar and linkages are shifting when you add/reduce pressure on the gas. You have the original hex bar. It's hard to keep in sink as it wears and shifts, so many of the cars have converted to heim joints at the ends. However, after looking at the photos again I think it's the throttle attachment to the transmission. It doesn't appear to have the transmission strap holding the trans in place. When you add a little gas the transmission torques slightly shifting the throttle cable.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby Carlos G » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:59 am

Randy,

I found a 2" wooden ball that I drilled a hole in and slid it onto the hood release latch rod. This helps in locating it.

Replacing the calipers is extreme. I'd first inspect the pads and hoses on all four corners, do a bleed, and adjust the drums. As Pete mentioned, the drums need to be adjusted every once in awhile.

Next time it's warmish out, take it out and get that motor up to temp. This is when you'll know if it's out of adjustment.

Are you going to be doing your own wrenching?
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby RandyM » Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:27 pm

Thanks for all the tips fellas, I really appreciate it.

I'll check the tire pressure and inspect the hoses this upcoming week. I'm slightly above shade tree mechanic but have a great air cooled mechanic who's always taken care of the 912, I'm sure he will be glad to know I've picked up a 550.

I like the empty parking lot idea, just need some slightly warmer weather...I guess I shouldn't judge the car to harsh with only 5-6 miles so far.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby EEricson » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:53 pm

That car looks fantastic. Great buy. I'm sure it'll sort-out with little or no trouble.

I'm consistently astonished by how few miles so many of these Spyders (and Speedsters) see. The engine for my Spyder came out of a nine-year-old Beck that was back in Bremen for a new engine—a Subaru upgrade. Miles on the old one?

1200.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby danstern » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:24 am

I've got over 30,000 on my Vintage, though age (mine not the cars) is slowing things down.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby RS-60 mark » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:39 pm

Hi RandyM -- fantastic looking car!

I agree with Dan, you must convert your hexbar carburetor linkage to "heim joint" ends as a matter of first-things-to-do. 7K miles is more than enough time to start wearing the ball-end socket inside the hexbar. You will never be happy and eternally frustrated with how the engine runs once the socket becomes worn. Use the "search" feature in the upper right-hand corner of this page and enter a search for "heim".

I don't see a problem with how the accelerator cable is anchored to the transaxle, per se. I agree with Dan that a straight up and down aligned throttle cable can be a red-light for exactly the reasons he stated (and from personal experience). But in your case the geometry between the the trans attachment point and the cable end attachment point is a fixed measurement and won't change; because the engine and trans torque up and down together. However, if the straight up and down (vertical) alignment continues from the trans attachment point to a fixed clamp or attachment point on the frame under the transaxle that would be a problem because that measurement will change with engine torque. The trick is to make sure the cable between the part that is moving up and down (the trans attachment point) and the firewall can make its bend towards the firewall and have 12"-18" of horizontal run before being fixed to anything like the frame or firewall. The unattached bend and horizontal run provides flexibility to absorb normal torque induced up and down movement without pulling up and down on the cable end attachment.

Related: a broken motor mount will allow exaggerated up and down torque movement of the engine/trans and that might effectively pull and release the throttle cable, and can certainly cause bucking on and off throttle. If you have red urethane engine mounts there is good reason to suspect.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby egrant5329 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:20 am

I always thought the type-1 in these cars could really benefit from a front motor mount like a Type-IV. I think DannyP had attached his engine to the torsion housing on his last spyder, but I am not sure if he did it in his new one. In my old Beck I have the OEM HD engine and trans mounts, but when you accelerated you could really feel the rod shifter moving around. I can't feel it with the cable shifter, but it's still moving.

Enjoy the new toy! they can be frustrating at times, but they sure are a lot of fun.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby albaran » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:39 am

I know this will sound a little strange, but I solved the bucking from throttle response by going to a smaller steering wheel. The angle that your foot hits the throttle at gets amplified at light throttle when you hit a bumb or accelerate.
Also make sure that the seat is as low as possible, preferably directly bolted to the floor and no adjustment mechanism raisng it up.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby TSchommer » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:50 pm

Congratulations on the purchase, you have a great car that will give you years of fun. It looks quite a bit like my car, I have a vinyl graphics package if you want to dress it up a little bit. Proof that it pays to wait a bit rather than jumping on the first car that comes along.

For Vintage experts I have a few questions on this car though. What tear did Vintage switch from the straight crossmember behind the rear shock towers to the one with the crown/peak? Also, I see that this car has the two circles in front of the rear wheel wells, I think these are for adjusting torsion bars, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen these on a Vintage car since they have coilovers. What would be the purpose of these on a car with coilovers?
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby EEricson » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:31 pm

I'm guessing they're there to be looking like the original item.
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Re: The 550 arrived! A few quick questions.

Postby RandyM » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:06 pm

Thanks for the kind feedback, I really have a lot to learn about these wonderful cars......I feel like such a rookie.

Even after "lurking" on this site for almost 5 years nothing beats input from all you current and previous owners.

It's looking like a high of 50 this saturday so hopefully a long ride is in the cards. I want to try and get a better look at the braking system also, the pull is not that bad just want to check the hoses, pressure, etc. The only negative so far after one week of ownership is this cold front!!

Thanks again for all the comments.
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